Tips to mastering Secondary School History essays

History is a subject that requires students to have excellent memory and recall, as well as analytical skills and critical thinking skills. It is often mistaken to be a subject that is limited to “memorising and regurgitating” when in actual fact, it requires students to be go beyond memorisation.

History essays test students on a variety of skills such as comprehension of historical concepts, the interpretation of them, drawing cross-references and analysing the motivations and agendas that historical figures had. History essay writing requires students to examine the question carefully for its key words and key concepts being testes, as well as to construct succinct arguments that are opinionated and well-analysed responses as opposed to regurgitated content filled with names, years and events.

Writing history essays is not an easy task and hence students often feel intimidated by the thought of it. So, here are some tips that students can follow to master their history essays!

EXAMINE THE QUESTION CAREFULLY

Before diving into reading the sources and texts, reading and assessing the questions first will be a good habit for students to develop. This enables you to form some ideas and possibilities in your mind about what the texts will be about. This early brainstorming will be helpful but keep in mind to not narrow it down to a few ideas or concepts.

It is of utmost importance for students to keep an open mind for all possibilities and at the same time take notice of all the questions requirements. Questions requirements are basically the framework which examiners use to assess the answers and rewards marks.

THE SOURCES

The sources provide the necessary information for students to read and answer the questions appropriately. However, it is necessary for students to be reminded that they should not completely rely on the sources provided as they need to recall their background knowledge on the historical event that is being discussed in the provided source as well.

This requires students to have active recall skills and it doesn’t happen overnight! Students need to be able to interpret satirical comics that appear as sources and should also be able to correlate concepts and think from the perspective of the illustrator or author. One has to practice over and over again in order to master these skills.

PLANNING

For any essay writing, planning is of paramount importance. Should students dive into writing without planning beforehand, the arguments written will have logic gaps, the points will not have a continuity and the writing will not be succinct, all of which will compound together and weaken the argument.

Writing out a template of the point of arguments, counterpoints and appropriate examples will enable students to build around that skeleton to further improve the essay and it keeps them open to more brainstorming to correlate more historical events as well as draw references from other texts which will value-add to the writing.

HISTORY TUITION

History tutors have the training and expertise to guide students to write better history essays. Students may not always be able to understand their weaknesses and strengths and often times they may feel that they are unequipped to find ways in which they can improve.

Private history tutors will analyse their students’ strengths and weaknesses and they will find a way to guide their students such that students can improve at a much rapid pace as compared to struggling all by themselves. The first step to solve a problem is to admit that there is a problem and as long as students realise that they need help with the subject, they will seek help from history tuition teachers to push their grades up!